Why did you choose this program? In my studies, I am focusing on the rights of indigenous groups around the world. Australia has the oldest living Aboriginal groups in the world, and past breaches of rights on Aboriginal groups have proven to create tension and political issues within the country presently, making Australia the perfect place to study abroad and learn about these issues.
Describe your favorite classes abroad. I had two favorite classes. One of them was about how history is written in Australia. It was really interesting because I was able to get an idea of current events and issues that Australia is facing today, and many of them were different than what the U.S is facing. And, we really focused on Aboriginal groups and their rights and how they have been discriminated against since the very beginning, which fit perfectly into my studies here. My other favorite was about Australia's role in WWI, which was interesting because I was able to learn about the war from an entirely different view point than I have ever learned it before.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived in Campus East, in a building called Trench Town. It was a 15 minute bus ride from the University. I lived with one other girl, who was actually an RA, but we had separate bedrooms and a shared bathroom.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Branch out! Make friends with locals if you can, rather than just other U.S. students. Get out of your comfort zone. Do new things.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? Probably scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef! It was as though an entire new world existed under the ocean. A sea turtle was so close I could touch it, and it floated in front of my face, staring at me. I saw a small shark, a huge fish, turtles, and so much more. It was like nothing else I had ever done before!
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. Even though I went to an English speaking country, when I first got there I had an extremely hard time understanding people. The Australian accents were strong than I anticipated, they talked extremely quickly, and they use a lot of Australian slang. I also had trouble training myself to walk to the left side, rather than the right, and knowing which way the buses would come from on the streets. There were also a lot of unfamiliar noises, such as the different birds that made noises I had never heard before.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? Make a budget beforehand! I would look into everything I wanted to do and see, and plan my finances a little better. Australia is expensive, and I probably wasted some money by not having a budget or being more aware of the costs of things.
What was your greatest challenge? When I first got there, I was incredibly sad. I was completely jet lagged, knew no one, my room was tiny and drab, and I felt in over my head. I felt defeated because I wanted to go home, and I started to think I wasn't brave enough or strong enough to be on my own so far away from home. But as the days went on, I felt more familiar with people, made some friends, and gradually got over the jet lag. I decorated my room, put up pictures, and slowly everything started to seem more like home.